When should I first take my child to see an orthodontist?

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Many people think orthodontic treatment should only begin once all of the ‘baby teeth’ have come out. This is a very common misconception!

Oftentimes, it is best to be proactive to eliminate or minimize any orthodontic issues your child may have. The Canadian Associations of Orthodontists recommends that the first orthodontic evaluation should be completed at age 7. Many people think of teenagers when it comes to orthodontic care; however, there are certain signs to look for that should be addressed at a younger age.

Certain malocclusions, better known as ‘bad bites’ are best addressed early when a child is growing to permit growth modification. Expansion of the upper jaw to minimize crowding and advancing the upper jaw to correct underbites are examples of treatment that should be done earlier to allow for more efficient jaw correction. Attempting to modify growth later when all of the baby teeth have exfoliated may not be possible, resulting in a poorer finish.

There is also a higher success rate of eliminating habits at a younger age, such as thumb sucking and forward tongue posture. These habits are usually more difficult to eliminate and will have caused more damage, if they are not addressed in a younger child.

At the first visit, a thorough examination of your child’s teeth will be completed. An important part of the initial examination is taking a panoramic radiograph. This valuable diagnostic image helps the orthodontist examine the developing dentition and gives a general view of your child’s teeth, joints, and sinuses. Supernumerary (extra), missing, and impacted (poorly erupting) teeth can be noted and addressed accordingly.

Not every child will need early orthodontic intervention; however, for those that do, a brief phase of orthodontic treatment at a younger age will help achieve a better long-term result.

– Dr. Bruce Tasios